In the Spotlight: The African Social Enterprise Visual Arts Award
The African Social Enterprise Fund (ASEF) is our flagship programme. The ASEF is dedicated to empowering and enabling emerging leaders in the Arts and Creative Industries to incorporate social impact into their professional work and their communities. We help them to do this by providing world-class leadership training, mentoring, financial support for and placements driven by social and environmental concerns.
The ASEF was formally launched on December 3, 2016 at Sotheby’s London when we introduced three ASEF awards in Fashion, Music and the Arts.
July was busy at Prospero World as we sought out the winner of the Afican Social Enterprise Fund Visual Arts Award through our wide network of contacts. Out of 35 applications received, 7 were shortlisted for an initial interview and 3 invited to final interview with our panel of experts: Gallerist Pascale Revert-Wheeler, Fine Art Expert Philip Mould, and Melissa Menke, social entrepreneur and founder of our Kenyan partner Access AFYA.
After extensive deliberation and debate, 30 year-old, South African Photographer Fulufhelo Mobadi was declared the winner.
Fulufhelo is a graduate of the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Programme at Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and has a Diploma in Art and Design from Central Johannesburg College. In June 2016 she exhibited her personal body of work “In my Private Moments” at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
Fulufhelo’s personal work consists of street photography and arranged portraits. She says:
"My work focuses on the struggles of women after experiencing Rape. I feel a need to challenge societal mannerisms in particular where they objectify the woman. I am constantly questioning the representation of the metropolitan woman in a cultured society. I investigate how responsibility and expectation have influenced me as a young woman practicing visual art."
Fulufhelo will be supported throughout the ASEF Visual Arts Award with regular mentoring, a twelve-day residential international leadership -programme and funding for art materials. She will travel to Kenya to complete a six week Artist-In-Residency, where she will lead community workshops and develop her own personal body of work. An exhibition of work will be curated on completion of the programme.
Fulufhelo impressed the panel, not only with her powerful photography but with her commitment to the use of the arts for social change. Her clear, thoughtful proposal for participatory photographic workshops entitled "Roses and Poses", will work with young women aged 15-18 in Nairobi to build confidence. Its overall aim is to address sexual violence against women.
Fulufhelo is keen to share her own experiences and bring them to her work. As an artist, she is courageous and committed. The panel were also struck by her dedication to promoting Pan Africanism. Fulufhelo stated that although Africa is composed of 54 countries, she believes that many of the challenges faced throughout the continent, are the same. Through her workshops she will seek to empower participants and enable them to express what matters to them most.
Fulufhelo is experienced in outreach work and believes passionately in the importance of art in enabling people to share experiences and trauma in order to move on from them.
About the Visual Arts Award:
The Visual Arts Award has been created to empower an African Visual Artist, under the age old 35, to:
Develop their own portfolio;
Provide the winning artist with the tools and exposure needed in order for their career to flourish
Inspire and support work that expresses social concerns.
Provide the winning artist with the opportunity to work with a vulnerable community in Kenya through a series of community art workshops designed to highlight issues of social concern. Our Kenyan partner Access AFYA will host the winner at a six-week Artist-In-Residency.
Interview: Fulufhelo Mobadi
What drew you to becoming an artist?
My older sister studied fine art at the National School of Arts in Johannesburg. I was still very young at the time but whenever she came home from school I sat next to her and watched her practice her skill. I spent many days copying her brush strokes and how to hold a pencil to sketch. I became the top art student in my class. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pursue a career in the arts because I was told it was a hobby not a job so I got a corporate job. In 2009 I realized that this was not my calling and decided to leave my job and focus on building my artistic career. It’s been an interesting journey ever since.
From your point of view and experience, what role does art play in society?
Art is very important in our society. I chose photography because it made telling my stories easier. I met so many people from different backgrounds through photography and as an artist. Art taught me not to judge people, to understand where they are coming from and to show compassion to the less fortunate. This for me was the most important lesson I got from the arts and I feel it should be the same for us all. Art allows you to look at the world differently, to look at society with a broader understanding and to start conversation and dialogue around what is happening in the world we live in and the people we live with.
What was your most memorable and transformational experience of working with communities through photography?
I began a photography documentary about drug addicts in my community. It was a difficult topic to capture and I wanted to show the human side of the people I worked with. People constantly turned a blind eye towards this pandemic and I wanted them to see that the young people I was documenting were hurting every day. This meant that in most cases I had to put my camera down and listen. I heard how parents of addicts suffered, how the community treated them and how the young addicts struggled on a day to day. One of the young men I was documenting was shot and killed by the police after he tried to escape from the holding cells before his trial. I was so heartbroken but what kept me going was how the community responded to my documentary which I showed at the funeral. They realized that this issue was bigger than just individual families but the community as a whole. Their response to me and my work made me realize how important it is to have art that engages the community and its social ills and that turning a blind eye to the realities they are faced with will not help them inthe end.
What do you believe needs to be done more or differently to achieve an even bigger positive impact inregard to the use of the arts for social change?
A lot of artists produce work to sell and show in galleries which is not a big problem because we all have to eat. My biggest issue is how artists come into these communities and produce work that speaks about these issues we are faced with but they don’t engage the community they are working in/from. This is problematic in the sense that when the artists leave the community is left not knowing how to continue without them being there anymore. In most cases the community art centre is the place they can go to improve on what they have learnt but the issue is some of these spaces are not well funded and don’t provide the necessary skills to help develop them further. I think our communities need more artist run spaces where people can continuously engage and develop their artistic skill surrounded by artists and arts practitioners.
What are the biggest challenges that you face as an artist?
Funding to start some of my projects has been my biggest challenge. Photography is an expensive practice and trying to get funding to start some of my projects has been my biggest challenge. I work from my own pocket, running workshops with the little that I have. It’s been really difficult but I always hope it will get better the more I network and up skill myself.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I am an early bird. I am usually up by 3am and that’s usually because I’ve had a dream or an idea and I need to wake up and write it down before I forget it. By then my day has begun. I am inspired by life and its possibilities and the sun filling my room to welcome a new day. It’s the simple things that help me get out of bed every morning. Oh and kisses from my 4 year old, Lufuno.